Carpenter is the Judge William Hawley Atwell Chair of Constitutional Law.
Prior to joining SMU, Professor Carpenter taught for 16 years at the University of Minnesota, where he served as a Distinguished University Teaching Professor and the Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law. He won multiple teaching awards. He is also an editor of Constitutional Commentary.
The Texas native received his B.A. degree in history, magna cum laude, from Yale College and received his J.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the University of Chicago Law Review. After serving as a law clerk for Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones, he practiced at the firms Vinson & Elkins LLP in Houston, and at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, P.C. in San Francisco.
As the author of numerous articles and an award-winning book —FLAGRANT CONDUCT: THE STORY OF LAWRENCE V. TEXAS (W.W. Norton & Co., 2012), about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that invalidated America's sodomy laws — he is often asked by the media to comment on constitutional law, the First Amendment, and LGBT Rights and the Law. Since 2005, he has been an active blogger on the popular legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, which is hosted by Reason.